The way creator Kurt Sutter first described his FX series Sons of Anarchy, it was Hamlet on Harleys: Prince Jax standing in for Hamlet, mom Gemma as Queen Gertrude and step dad Clay as King Claudius, the Shakespearean character who murdered his brother and wed his sister-in-law.
There's still a lot of that Shakespearean drama circling this series about an outlaw motorcycle club living by their own rules and profiting from vice and corruption and putting family first. But most people figured out early on that Sons of Anarchy was more Sopranos on Harleys, hard-core criminals who could make you feel as if they aren't quite the monsters their activities would suggest.
You know, like killing people and intimating innocents who got in their way -- like a witness who opted to do their civic duty. That never ends well in either series.
Even the characters of both shows parallel each other.
Jax (Charlie Hunnan)Teller/Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli): Both young men represent the next generation leadership, and both have some literary tenancies. Jax reads his late dad's writings, and believes there's a higher ground the club should be taking. Christopher thinks he's a screenwriter. Both run into trouble with their father-figures, the current leadership. Jax keeps getting in Clay's way, and Clay encourages him to go Nomad to get rid of him. But the two find common ground when Gemma is raped. But we aren't sure the truce will last. At the end, Tony Soprano got so tired of Christopher messing up, he decided to take matters into his own hands and asphyxiated Christopher after the two were in a bad car crash. Jax might discover step-daddy has his limit when it comes to appeasing the woman he loves. Another thing Jax and Christopher have in common is actress Drea de Matteo. She played Christopher's drug-addict fiance - and was killed after she ratted out Tony's crew. She also played Jax's drug-addict wife and mother of his son. She was banished by Jax's mom Gemma, who might just knock her off if that's what it takes.
Gemma (Katey Sagal) Teller Morrow/Carmela (Edie Falco) Soprano: Both moms will protect their families by any means necessary. Although Carmela tries to play the suburban mom card as often as possible, she knew where the guns -- and possibly a few bodies -- were hidden. Both believe in food binding the family together, with Carmela whipping up her famous ziti and Gemma bringing the biker boys into domestication with her sit down dinners. They know they hold a special spot in the clans hierarchy, each a queen in her own right.
Tara (Maggie Siff) Knowles/Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco): These two professional women can't seem to shake their ties to the bad boys. Tara's been in love with Jax for most of her life, and even becoming a doctor hasn't stopped her from drifting back to the dark side. She recently beat a co-worker bloody after the woman threatened to get Tara booted from the hospital. We like a take-charge gal, but not sure the Hippocratic Oath should be trumped like this. Dr. Melfi may have had some simmering feelings for Tony, but she kept them to herself for the most part, staying above the fray. She flirted with the idea of telling Tony about her rape, but she opted not to do so because she know what would happen. Melfi kept her distance, but Tara has started down a slippery moral slope.
Clay (Ron Perlman) Morrow/ Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini): The big boys who keep their respective mobs in line. Neither seems to have a problem getting rid of people they deem untrustworthy in their organizations. Tony put the hit out on Christopher's girlfriend Adriana when Christopher tipped Tony off about her low-level cooperation with the Feds. And Clay ordered a hit on one of the founding members' son -- and motorcycle club member -- when he thought Opie might be cooperating with the Feds. Turned out Opie wasn't, and the hit resulted in Opie's innocent wife Donna getting murdered instead. Oh well, collateral damage happens. There have been hints that Clay might have been responsible for the hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of his friend who was married to Gemma and was Jax's dad. Clay appears to have no moral compass, although he does seem to have genuine feelings for Gemma. Tony has killed his surrogate son Christopher, his favorite cousin Tony and his pal Ralph. Ralph was a vicious killer, but what tipped Tony over the edge was when Ralph killed Tony's beloved race horse for the insurance money. Even bad guys have a soft spot somewhere. At least on TV.